02/14/2013 4:43PM

Dynaformer: Leading sire by turf earnings, turf average earnings


He was pure alpha male . . . big, powerful, dominant . . . a three-quarter-ton, 17-hand tower of attitude and temper, who might have gnashed your finger off as soon as he looked at you, who bent the steel bars on his stall door like so much Play-Doh, and who commanded fear-tinged respect from all around him — including other horses. He was not anything approximating handsome, nor had he been a top-flight racehorse, but try convincing him of that.

This was Dynaformer, who, after suffering a major heart attack last spring, mystified vets and defied the odds by surviving for another 15 days before finally slipping into eternity on the morning of April 29 to join a pantheon of equine immortals.

His is a legacy we can only hope will live on. In a sport filled with speedballs and babies, Dynaformer was an old-school anomaly . . . the antithesis of the modern prototype of fast and early, one and done. Instead, he was that rarest of sires who infused his progeny with stamina, durability, and turf excellence. At age 27 in 2012, Dynaformer led all Kentucky and North American sires by turf progeny earnings — his sixth time as a leader in 11 years. His 23 U.S. and Canadian grass winners earned $4,153,707 in purses and included six stakes winners, five of them graded. Triple New York Grade 1 winner Point of Entry led with a bankroll of $1,746,600, followed by Del Mar Handicap winner Casino Host, Ioya Bigtime, Starformer, and Kindergarden Kid. The sixth, non-graded stakes winner Lentenor, is best known as a full brother to beloved but ill-fated Barbaro.

From the beginning the Dynaformers seemed well-suited for turf racing. Good-boned and athletic with ground-eating strides and high-knee action, they skimmed over that living surface like a stone over water. To date, 77 percent (106) of his 138 career stakes winners have scored on turf while earning $75 million as opposed to nearly $42 million on dirt and synthetics. Seventeen of his 23 worldwide flat Grade 1 winners have achieved their elite status on grass, and three-time champion McDynamo heads a list of 14 stakes-winning jumpers for Dynaformer. A remarkable one in five of his lifetime turf starters have been of stakes caliber — including Barbaro, who was brilliantly unconquerable on grass.

From whence did this trait come? It does not overtly appear to be a gift from Dynaformer himself, who had plenty of his own chances on grass but tended to squander them. (He won two allowance races in seven turf tries.) More likely, this affinity was passed down from Dynaformer’s European-raced sire, Roberto, or from his undefeated maternal great-grandsire, Ribot — both turf superstars in their time and place.

He was as coarse as rock salt, plain as a slice of bread, and no better than a Grade 2 runner on his best day. Former assistant trainer Kiaran McLaughlin recalled him as a biting “monster,” “one of the ugliest horses I ever saw” and “the most difficult I ever trained.” At a Three Chimneys Farm eulogy, he was tenderly described by those who knew him best as “tough,” “difficult,” and “mean as a snake,” but also as “awe inspiring,” “commanding,” and “great.” Love him or fear him, one had no choice but to respect him.

The irascible giant might have suspected that he was far more than his less-than-perfect parts. In fact, he proved an industry game changer who emblazoned his imprint onto the breed in proud, emphatic terms … who created a clan of gifted racehorses who burned hot with the fiery will to win, over any distance and on any surface — but especially grass. Some 520 sons and daughters have to this point made 1,391 trips into winner’s circles worldwide following grass victories. Their sire’s stud fee rose from humble $5,000 beginnings in 1990 to a $150,000 mountaintop a few years back, and in the course of that surprising onward and upward trek he achieved something truly remarkable: He brought “sexy” back to American grass and distance racing.

That was Dynaformer.

Leading Kentucky sires by 2012 progeny turf earnings

1 Dynaformer (1985, Roberto) Died 2012 88 23 $4,153,707
2 Stormy Atlantic (1994, Storm Cat) Hill 'n' Dale Farms $30,000 151 49 $3,778,676
3 Smart Strike (1992, Mr. Prospector) Lane's End $85,000 116 42 $3,728,154
4 Giant's Causeway (1997, Storm Cat) Ashford Stud $85,000 144 45 $3,385,991
5 Kitten's Joy (2001, El Prado IRE) Ramsey Farm $50,000 143 54 $3,174,753
6 City Zip (1998, Carson City) Lane's End $25,000 98 36 $3,051,815
7 Medaglia d'Oro (1999, El Prado IRE) Darley $100,000 94 25 $2,554,558
8 Lemon Drop Kid (1996, Kingmambo) Lane's End $35,000 119 40 $2,413,418
9 Mizzen Mast (1998, Cozzene) Juddmonte Farms $15,000 88 27 $2,384,830
10 English Channel (2002, Smart Strike) Lane's End $25,000 87 38 $2,266,993

Leading Kentucky sires by 2012 average turf earnings per starter

1 Dynaformer (1985, Roberto) Died 2012 88 23 $47,201
2 War Front (2002, Danzig) Claiborne Farm $80,000 63 19 $33,016
3 Smart Strike (1992, Mr. Prospector) Lane's End $85,000 116 42 $32,139
4 City Zip (1998, Carson City) Lane's End $25,000 98 36 $31,141
5 Master Command (2002, A.P. Indy) Died 2010 31 11 $30,298
6 Rahy (1985, Blushing Groom FR)  Died 2011 46 25 $29,484
7 Medaglia d'Oro (1999, El Prado IRE) Darley $100,000 94 25 $27,176
8 Mizzen Mast (1998, Cozzene) Juddmonte Farms $15,000 88 27 $27,100
9 Hat Trick (JPN) (2001, Sunday Silence) Gainesway $15,000 36 12 $26,751
10 English Channel (2002, Smart Strike) Lane's End $25,000 87 38 $26,057

*Minimum 10 starts